Item description for Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin by Tracy Lee Simmons...
In Climbing Parnassus, winner of the 2005 Paideia Prize, Tracy Lee Simmons presents a defense and vindication of the formative power of Greek and Latin. His persuasive witness to the unique, now all-but-forgotten advantages of study in and of the classical languages constitutes a bracing reminder of the genuine aims of a truly liberal education.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5" Weight: 0.84 lbs.
Release Date Sep 15, 2007
Publisher Intercollegiate Studies Institute
ISBN 1933859504 ISBN13 9781933859507
Reviews - What do customers think about Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin?
A Great Argument for the Classics Oct 15, 2007
This book is a tremendous resource not only for some history of education, but it intelligently explains the importance of Greek and Latin as well. Simmons could have spent a little more time, in my opinion, exploring some of the arguments against learning the classics, such as the (perhaps justifiable) fear of polluting young minds with "pagan" philosophy and racy tales. He does seem to think Greek and Latin exercises will enable children to rightly discern between the proverbial baby and the bathwater, which they undoubtedly will to a point. One cannot help but notice that Simmons has, however, given too high a place to these languages. They are important to learn, but they are not the pinnacle he makes them out to be. He over-sells in my estimation. That said, it is a great book and I would recommend it to anyone.
Climbing Parnassus, a bit too Herculean Aug 24, 2007
Wonderful book. Well written. One of the best apologies for Latin and Greek (and being a Latin teacher I have read not a few).
The only reason it is only four stars is that the labor is too difficult (for mortals like myself). Simmons falls, I believe, into the Erasmian (and Kantian) error that the pains of the labor are the measure of the greatness. I have two words: Mozart and Shakespeare. The Muses give their gifts to whom they will. Erasmus' error is corrected by Josef Pieper in "Leisure. .", and although T.S.Eliot wrote the introduction to that book, he may have fallen somewhat into the same error. Nevertheless, it is an admirable error.
This brings me to the second point. No one will undertake such an enterprise. In the wide searches I've done in looking at various institutions, I have found none that come close to preparing one for climbing to Parnassus. Moreover, his model is very English in bent. There was another model on the main Continent that was far more felicitous, namely the Jesuits'. In the medieval tradition, they began teaching the young to speak Latin naturally. It is the answer that Dorothy Sayers was seeking for in her essay complaining how she studied Latin 20 years and never learned it. Moreover, the English method is the very method that likely killed Homer (though I have yet to read that book) and, I have some time maintained, killed the study of Latin (and Greek).
My suggestion is to speak Latin, starting as young as possible. The closest method is Oerberg, whom my own sixth grade students thoroughly enjoy.
That said, it is a wonderful book, a delight to read. I think students, starting in 3rd grade, should study Latin at least three hours a day (by speaking and reading, of course). When they have long mastered the idiom, then they can move on to the complexities of Cicero and the beauty of Virgil. For now, I am satisfied teaching Oerberg to sixth graders since most people think me crazy if I suggest we do away with (or lessen the part of) mind-numbing "subjects" to make way for a real training of the "animal having speech" (logos), as Aristotle defines it. To evolve from a mere chatterbox to an "animal having reason" (logos), requires difficult training. Nevertheless, even the most strenuous exercise, done the right way and to greatest effect, can be delightful.
Why the Classical Languages Matter Jun 28, 2007
Simmons' book answers that nagging question, Is there really any reason to study Latin besides improving one's SAT scores? The answer is a resounding yes. This in-depth look at what traditional classical education meant and contributed for centuries is particularly useful for homeschooling families as a counterpoint to the more popular "neoclassical" approaches of Susan Wise Bauer, the Bluedorns, Doug Wilson/Logos School, Veritas Press, etc. In fact, by the end of the book, the nagging question has changed: Can any curriculum not based on the classical languages really be called classical at all? Highly recommended reading. Another top pick: Andrew Campbell's The Latin-Centered Curriculum, which is as practical (even including a scope-and-sequence component) as Climbing Parnassus is historical and theoretical.
Another mewling conservative Nov 3, 2006
Another mewling conservative decrying the present state of American education and calling for a return of the Greek and Latin classics. All the usual suspects are included: Bill Clinton, multiculturalism, etc. It's less a call for a return to the basics than a whining political screed and written with all the Asiatic tinsel of a Bill Buckley, who wrote the foreword and gave the book his blessing. There is much good being done in public education, and the classics are not being ignored. It's just that education--and a classical education at that--is no longer the exclusive right of a privileged caste, which is what really bothers these people.
A must-read for teachers and students Jan 13, 2006
This book is profoundly inspiring, and an invaluable resource for those who desire to learn and those who desire to teach. Teachers would do well to heed Simmons' advice:
"Any lower school aspiring to help the intelligent children to be their best, to allow the smart to rise and reach heights undreamt of, will give full credit to those children for possessing minds capapble of great things. Children are to be sympathized with and respected, not coddled, nor are they to be humored. Their roads aren't always to be made smooth."
Simmons warns us that the ascent of Parnassus is not easy, but is so very worthwhile. He provided me with a glimpse of what I missed out on by not being Classically educated, and left me with a determination to ensure that my child IS Classically educated.